Mushin #2

mushin

mushin

In a previous post I postulated that the preferential level of physiological arousal required for MMA or a fight is similar to the concept of mushin in Japanese Martial Arts, rather than a raging state. The following quote is from a short piece on developing mushin through makiwara training

“Makiwara training also develops mushin, which literally means “no mind”. If you only concentrate on the pad in front of you, your sense of awareness is limited to the board alone. The moment you make impact the mind, the spirit, and the body must join together and then instantly relax, again allowing the spirit to absorb whatever is going on around you. This total physical/spiritual contraction and then relaxation is essential to develop the ability to defend yourself against multiple opponents. Commit just as fully to the completion of the technique as you commit to the execution. The mind should be the same throughout and only with mushin can this be accomplished.”

I don’t know the person who wrote the above quote, and as such I have no idea as to the training advocated by the club/association he represents. I am fairly certain though that this approach to mushin is on the esoteric side and not really set up for defence against multiple opponents at all. It all sounds a bit airy fairy to me.

At Primal Steve Morris would get us into a heightened state of physiological arousal, by performing drills intended to set the CNS (Central Nervous System) to a high level of motor unit recruitment so we could strike with increased power. That sentence doesn’t do the drills justice, it’s very difficult to get the feeling over in the written word. He wrote on his blog about how the sprinter Ben Johnson would do heavy squats prior to running the 100m, in order to prepare the CNS for full explosive power.

(You can read what Steve Morris says about this here, here and here.)

It sounds counterintuitive, as you’d think the squatting would fatigue the muscles. Its an approach that works and enables you to get more than you think you can get. I first described the one drill on the old Shikon forum and will try again in a later post. But it’s not just the drill, it’s a case of using the drill to reach a level of intense power, an impression of which can then be “memorized” and repeated. This impression is then surpassed and a new impression “memorized”. The main outcome of the drill was very powerful strikes, but also along with the impression of power was the impression of the heightened arousal required to enable the expression of the power in the strike. Hopefully, that makes sense, you could even think of it as a mushin like coming together of the mind, spirit and body, because all of that happens. The mind is clear, you’re just observing whats happening, the spirit is high, you’re highly aroused, the CNS is set to fire at a high rate and the body fires off the shot. It’s a release, a big big release.

So while you could fit that description of mushin to what we did, it’s a giant leap, and there’s no actual indication in that description of the amplitude of arousal required, which is high, although not raging. In the previous mushin post I suggested that people may be inclined to develop a kata performance mushin, which seems to be more in line with the description above, and kata mushin is not whats needed for MMA or a fight.

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2 thoughts on “Mushin #2

  1. “That sentence doesn’t do the drills justice, it’s very difficult to get the feeling over in the written word.”

    I think this same problem occurs a lot of times when trying to describe mushin. Makiwara, kata, sparring, etc are all methods used to approach the proper mindset of mushin and zanshin (which like you said about your style of training, can be very hard to put into words).

    Another factor to consider with kata mushin is that in traditional styles there is often a desire for some sort of enlightenment through training. A betterment of character and quality. I think your absolutely right that kata alone could not get you to an optimal self defense state, which is why very few styles rely on it solely. It is however, a valuable tool amongst other tools and serves many purposes.

    All the best!

  2. Thanks for the comment Ikigai, written word can be pretty clumsy I know. I think you’re right, people train in martial arts fro a variety of reasons. If peolpe get enlightenment through kata mushin that’s all well and good, but it’s essential that if they want to be able to defend themselves they realise and act on the realisation.

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